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LG Lucid – Verizon’s newest mid-range phone is its best [Hardware Review]

May 7, 2012 | by Ben Crawford

Android OS, Android Phones, Android Phones and Devices, Carriers, Featured post, LG, Reviews, Verizon

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Evaluated version: Verizon LTE/CDMA

Pros: Beautiful design, snappy processor, great video recording

Cons: So-so picture quality, dull colors and icons, Gingerbread

Mid-range phones are the butt of many jokes around the Android circles, but there is large market for them and, let’s face it, a lot of people don’t need or use a top of the line phone. The good thing for the mid-level crowd is that with each top of the line hardware upgrade, the perception of what a high-end vs low-end device should be changes proportionally. Luckily, the LG Lucid has the specs that could have competed at the top of the line last year, but this year is a budget friendly, high-performing device. With the perfect shape and size, the Lucid boasts a perfect handheld form with the specs to perform comparable to its mid-level brethren, even ones with a higher price tag.

Hardware

Most mid-range phones don’t have a hook. They either have average specs and/or a black box-shaped body. However, the LG Lucid brings some excitement to the Android OS with its smoothed, curvy design and pleasuring ergonomic, hand-fitting case. What people say about the iPhone’s design, they should also say about the Lucid’s. It is a beautiful form that is comfortable to hold and play with. The color of the Lucid depends on your viewing angle. It looks black with a sparkly back cover, but in a bright light it shows flashes of a dark red-purple. The power button is a great position and is easily pressed, but a very similar button is on the opposite side of the phone which I thought was the camera button. Unfortunately, it’s just a screw cover so I was excited for nothing. The volume rocker is a little difficult to press as it blends in with the curvature of the phone. The headphone jack and USB port round out the rest of the hardware features.

The now-smallish 4″ display took some getting used to after handling my Nexus, and the amalgamation that is LG’s keyboard doesn’t help matters. The Lucid houses a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. Quite a bit of horsepower for a small, middle of the pack phone, and this helps the Lucid stand out in the crowd. Even with Verizon’s and LG’s bloatware, the Lucid can run circles around phones in its same class. The only downside for the Lucid is the small amount of memory it comes packed with. Only a 8GB hard drive comes standard, but you can upgrade it with an external mini-SD card. It’s hard to imagine how far Android phones have come in a couple of years, and the Lucid can show all the progress in a small package. A great processor and a fluid, sexy design combine to form the complete Android package.

Screen/Camera

The screen is one of LG’s best technological achievements. It is bright and vibrant even compared to a Samsung display. LG’s problem, however, is that their software, what’s running behind the screen, that isn’t up to par. Despite not being full high-definition, the Lucid and LG certainly bring a sharpness that you won’t find in many non-HD phones. Colors are pretty in apps, just don’t look for the complimentary colors and vibrancy from LG’s skinned overlay. The pastel color palette is outdated, and with a screen like this, LG really should have kicked their developers into making something more creative to take advantage of the the sharp, bright screen.

The camera itself is really lagging behind the hardware. While the 5MP back camera does produce good shots in all sorts of lighting and angles, I noticed whatever wasn’t focused on in the picture seemed to be drowned out by whatever was focused on. The camera app though worked great. It took pictures quick and had quite a few setting options for you camera-tweakers. The washing out habit didn’t carry over to the 1080 HD video quality from the pictures. Videos looked and played marvelously wherever I took them. The front-facing camera is only VGA, but it handled OK for quick pictures to your friends. You won’t get the quality of an HTC One X from the Lucid’s camera, but it can certainly serve the purpose if you need a snapshot in a cinch.

 

Software Performance

With LG, there’s not really anything to complain about in terms of their software that’s put on top of stock Android. So, I can’t blame the Lucid for LG’s lack of imagination or the lack of effort put into making the “LG experience” something noteworthy. It’s not intrusive, but semi-beneficial like HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s Touchwiz, and it’s not as worthless as whatever Motorola is putting on their phones. I’ve almost gotten to the point where this is the skin I expect on every mid-range Android phone. I expect it to have pastel blue, green, and oranges, an app drawer that makes it harder to find your apps, and a few handy app icons for the “new-to-smartphones” crowd. The call quality is tinny, but overall I didn’t have any dropped calls, and the GPS locked on right away.

While it isn’t really a hindrance, it’s not very beneficial either, and with those negating each other, I can’t see how LG thinks it is better to worry about the hassle of a customized skin than put stock Android on the phone. High-end Android enthusiasts would pay more attention to these devices if they were simply the “pure Android” experience. Aside from this, the Lucid flies through boot-ups, multiple screens, and apps with only a few stutters when switching between these things quickly. It’s noticeable, but the dual-core processor can generally eat up these tasks with ease. Another way LG could set itself apart is to release the mid-level devices with the latest software. No, I didn’t want to see capacitive when I opened the box. Ice Cream Sandwich has been out long enough for the Lucid to have shipped with it, and with it being the type of device it is, the consumer is left wondering when it will  be upgraded (They promised an update to ICS). LG, if you want to sell more phones and give yourselves less of an update hassle, release your phones with stock Android!

App Performance

Another great device to try Temple Run and one of Gamevil’s latest games, Immortal Dusk, on. With the dual-core processor beefed up to 1.4 Ghz, the Lucid can handle most games that pass through the Play Store. You may notice a small amount of lag from fast paced games like FPSs or something like Riptide, but the Lucid did not disappoint at all when it came to the average game at all.

Websites and videos loaded quickly with Verizon’s LTE. Again, last year we wouldn’t be having the discussion of this type of phone having LTE, but now, Verizon has made it standard for any new phone on their network. It is a such a leg-up for the Lucid and Verizon that even phones like this can bring consumers over from other carriers. The Lucid shows that 3G is the past, and the average to low-end consumer can satisfy their speed desires with devices in their price range.

Final Thoughts

The LG Lucid is a tale of how far Android and smartphones have come. A gorgeous design covers some fairly high-end specs. Hardware we were dreaming of last year is this year’s mid-range device. LG has come a long way from rectangular, squared corners to perhaps creating a design that other manufacturers can learn from. The innards can’t even be scoffed at by the hardcore Android crowd, and while they may not be completely top of the line, they are certainly high-end for such a low-cost phone. It’s a great time when an $80 phone can rival personal computers and still be considered mid-level. It’s also great that Android novices can get into the smartphone crowd without their wallet being broken, and the LG Lucid is the best bang for your buck.